Food and Beverage Ontario: A New Organization with a Dynamic Mandate

Did you know that you are employed by one of the largest manufacturing sectors in Ontario? The former Alliance of Ontario Food Processors (AOFP) indicates that Ontario’s food and beverage processors are 3000 strong, employing 125, 000 people, generating $39 billion annually and adding value to 65% of products from Ontario farms. By 2020 the sector is forecasted to be the largest manufacturing employer in Ontario and the number one customer of Ontario’s agricultural sector. The food and beverage processing sector is a large and vital part of the Ontario economy and needs a strong voice to speak on its behalf.

To address the concerns of the processing industry, a new organization, Food and Beverage Ontario (FBO) was created in June. The organization arose from the former AOFP, a coalition of food and beverage associations. Like the Alliance before, it is the only provincial association with the mandate to represent all Ontario processors. The FBO features a new governance model designed to strengthen the input from the processing sector and a new logo to represent its mandate. Membership is now by company with a pro-rated fee structure. The FBO is developing a stronger focus and a more powerful voice, providing the leadership needed by the food and beverage processing sector. The organization will wear many hats, acting as an industry advocate, collaborator, strategist, network provider and educator.

FBO recently announced a dynamic and greatly expanded strategy titled “Ontario’s Food and Beverage Processing Industry Strategy: The New Engine of Ontario’s Economy”. The strategy is far reaching, covering a four step action plan. All of these areas are important to the CIFST membership and the companies we work with and for.

  1. Establishing a Food and Beverage Innovation Centre
  2. Raising the Profile of Ontario Food & Drink
  3. Developing Talent & a Future in Food
  4. Simplifying and Modernizing Regulations

The Food and Beverage Innovation Centre will be both physical and on-line. It is a comprehensive approach to providing an environment for the processing sector to innovate and competitively develop business opportunities. The Centre will include an innovation resource and portal, which will connect Ontario processors globally with resources in technologies, marketing, manufacturing and packaging. The Centre will also provide an incubator-pilot plant for small scale manufacturing. There will be support for business strategy and market development, as well as for capital access options and value chain partnerships. In short the Innovation Centre will be a resource for processors from idea generation to successful commercialization.

Another FBO objective is to reach out to other stakeholders. FBO will raise the profile of the Ontario brand for safe, healthy, high quality foods both domestically and internationally. Working with other industry champions and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, FBO will develop programs to expand the reputation for Ontario products. Reaching out also involves looking to the future to develop talent for the food and beverage processing sector. Here, FBO will work with various Ontario Ministries and coordinate with post-secondary institutions to raise student awareness of opportunities in the food and beverage processing industry and support processors’ needs for a skilled workforce.

Many in the processing sector will be gratified to know that the FBO has taken a strong leadership position in simplifying and modernizing regulations. FBO is advocating a “one window” approach to streamlining regulations from three levels of government. The objective is speed approvals, reduce costs and build a collaborative approach. Recently, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued a document titled “A New Regulatory Framework for Federal Food Inspection: Overview of Proposed Regulations.” The purpose of this extensive document is to address proposed changes in such areas as licensing, trade, traceability, safety, control, standards and labelling. FBO has responded with a very definitive and proactive submission advocating the processors’ position.

Since the Spring FBO has moved forward on a number of initiatives. Readers are encouraged to visit the new FBO website at to learn more about the organization and its full range of activities. The new FBO location is 100 Stone Rd. West, Ste. 201, Guelph, ON, N1G 5L3. For more information contact Ms. Isabel Dopta, Director, Communications & Industry Relations or Mr. Alan Grant, Director, Membership & Industry Relations. Both can be reached at 519-826-3741.

Companies in the food and beverage processing sector, now have in place an organization which is responsive to Ontario industry concerns and which will lead, promote, and support our industry. Consider encouraging your company to review the advantages FBO offers its members. We wish Food and Beverage Ontario every success as they move to implement a very ambitious and welcomed strategy.

Alice and Doug Chapman
Douglas Chapman and Associates Inc.